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New Zealand’s ‘well-being budget’ and the unnecessary evil of economic growth

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has presented a pioneering national budget where spending is dictated by the “well-being” of citizens, rather than productivity and economic growth. But as long as other major economies continue to prioritise growth, New Zealand may become a lone wolf trapped in an increasingly hungry bear pit, writes Jack Peat.

Ahead of ‘Day Zero’, Delhi’s water crisis is about to turn into a water war

From ABC News: Delhi is one of 21 Indian cities that could run out of groundwater, according to a 2018 government thinktank report. Disputes over water often lead to violence, especially in the city’s unauthorised settlements. The state government and the local “water mafia” are drilling bores, further depleting groundwater and exacerbating the larger problem.

Jason Hickel: The Nordic model is a disaster for the environment

From Al Jazeera: Scandinavian countries have some of the highest levels of happiness on the planet, and top virtually every ranking of human development. They re worth celebrating for all they get right. But there’s a problem. They’re an ecological disaster, with some of the highest levels of resource-use and CO2 emissions in the world.

Mihir Shah: India’s water crisis has a simple solution

“This plan has multiple win-wins: Improvement in soil and water quality, higher incomes for farmers, reduced malnutrition and obesity, and a simple solution to India’s water problem by drastically reducing use of water in agriculture.” Also watch: ‘Bringing the Science Back Into Water: A New Paradigm for 21st Century India,’ a talk by Mihir Shah.

Blip: Humanity’s 300 year self-terminating experiment with industrialism

In his new book ‘Blip’, Christopher Clugston synthesizes the evidence produced by hundreds of research studies to quantify the causes, implications, and con­sequences associated with industrial humanity’s predicament. He presents compelling evidence to show how industrial civilisation’s enormous and ever-increasing utilisation of nonrenewable natural resources will lead to global societal collapse in the near future.

Compulsive consumption: The malaise at the core of the climate crisis

Thanks to the capitalist propaganda machine, we’ve forgotten the difference between ‘conscious’ and ‘compulsive’ consumption. Frugality, which once used to be the essence of responsible living has been labelled as ‘shame’. Though rarely discussed, this was the beginning–and now the core–of the climate crisis. And it has begun to control all aspects of our lives.

Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t realise that’

Over more than 40 years, Vaclav Smil has grown in influence, and is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way others wait for the next Star Wars movie. Smil’s latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.

Shashi Shekhar: “We are not allowing sub-soil water to recharge”

The irony couldn’t be crueler. Even as large parts of India battle floods, a new report has ranked the country 13th among “extremely highly water-stressed” nations. Alarming news, since India has “three times the population of the other 17 combined”. Former Water Resources chief Shashi Shekhar casts a knowing eye on India’s ballooning water crisis.

Air Conditoning: The all-too costly feeding and care of a familiar beast

The task of explaining the wider issues associated with air conditioning is a daunting task as the weather gets warmer. In ‘Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)’, author Stan Cox shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate.

We have drought-proofed our cities, and left farms and farmers to die

Devinder Sharma writes: This year, nearly 82% of Karnataka is reeling under drought. But in Bangalore, you won’t get even a hint of the terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.

Can the economy grow forever?

To keep this kind of growth going, we need to tap more resources, which is beyond the Earth’s capacity. Till now the growth was possible because we thought resources are abundant. But today we know that we will have to experience a serious crisis in the next half century, depending upon how we use resources.

Thermodynamic Failure: Phase 2

“Most people aren’t paying attention. Most people have no idea what’s going on. Industrial civilization is already having serious health problems and heart palpitations. By 2020, industrial civilization’s going to suffer a massive stroke. By 2025, it will be in hospice. By 2030, it will be dead,” writes the anonymous author of Articulating The Future.

Herman Daly reviews ‘Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet’

In this book, Kerryn Higgs traces the rise of economic growth to the status of the number one goal of nations, and how this pernicious idea prevailed over carefully reasoned counter-arguments through well-funded, carefully orchestrated propaganda. Its a kick in the head for those of us who believe in the persuasive power of reasoned argument.

Why growth can’t be green

Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy: Many policymakers have responded to ecological breakdown by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There is just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone hopes for. In fact, it’s not even possible.

The social ideology of the motorcar

“The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people”. So starts Andre Gorz’s justly famous 1973 essay which remains as relevant today as ever.

Special Feature: Three views from the global economy’s energy cliff

Here are three leading observers on the world’s increasingly shaky energy situation. Minqui Li presents a through-going analysis of the global energy scenario from 2018-2050 based on the latest data, Kurt Cobb suggests that ‘peak oil’ maybe a process, rather than a event, while Chris Martenson issues a stark warning on the coming oil crash.

The Age of Peaking Resources: A Personal Take

During my first encounter with resource depletion issues I thought re-localisation would be a strategy to defy the odds. One relocates to a resource abundant small geography and maintains it through a community driven process. But then, I never pursued it. However, the recent news of India’s looming water crisis has got me thinking again.

Gail Tverberg: Our energy problem is about quantity, not just quality

Reading about energy today, it’s easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting. There’s a different issue that we are not being told about. It’s the fact that having enough energy – quantity – is extremely important, as well.

J.M. Korhonen: I’m no longer advocating for clean energy; here’s why

We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.

Junk Planet: Is Earth the largest garbage dump in the Universe?

Robert J. Burrowes writes: Just listing the types of rubbish generated by humans is a staggering task. Nevertheless, I will give you a reasonably comprehensive summary of the types of garbage being generated, the locations into which it’s being dumped and some indication of what’s being done about it and what you can do too.

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